Someone in the family suggested that we have our family photo taken dressed in wild west old time theme.  I did not resist, although I laughed at the possibility of us landing an infamous status as internet memes circulating in all social media platforms.

Across the photo studio is the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I thought this was the best idea of the day!  Having lived in Okinawa, Japan for three years gives me the tendency to compare any aquarium with  Churaumi Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the world in 2002 when it opened. Surprisingly, despite its compact size, Ripley’s Aquarium did not disappoint. This two-story facility houses over 10,000 exotic sea creatures in 350 individual species. Its website even claims to have more fish in this aquarium than there are people living in the entire town of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  :)

 

At Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

Its upper level consists of the tropical rain forest with a tropical waterfalls that serves as a welcome, an ocean realm exhibit including a school of piranha, a shark lagoon and a touch a ray bay.

School of piranha at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
School of piranha at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

The lower level on the other hand, exhibits a coral reef, a discovery center, a gallery of the seas, a sting ray bay and a penguin playhouse.

At Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Tanks of jellyfish at Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Tanks of jellyfish at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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At Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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Jellyfish at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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Giant Spider Crab at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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Nautilus at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
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The Penguin Playhouse at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

My favorite part of the experience is seeing Shark Lagoon through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. We had a shoal of sharks cruising right above our heads! This reminded me of the same concept used in S.E.A. Aquarium (South East Asia Aquarium) in Singapore.

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Enjoying the shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Enjoying the shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Enjoying the shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Enjoying the shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path.  The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
The shoal of sharks and rays cruising right above our heads at Shark Lagoon of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies through an underwater acrylic tunnel travelling on a 340-foot glide path. The aquarium is one of the most popular tourist spots in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

 

Did we get our wild west old time theme for this year?  Sadly, no. But this photo works, at least for now.

Family Christmas 2015
Family Thanksgiving 2015 in Tennessee.

 

 

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